7 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Suddenly Digging Holes In Your Backyard


Last Updated: December 15, 2022 | 8 min read | 4 Comments

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Has your dog suddenly started digging holes while turning your backyard into a digging party? While this behavior may be enjoyable for our furry friends, it can lead to serious consequences for their owners. Not only is digging very destructive to your property, but it can also give our beloved pups a possible escape route.

So why do our dogs suddenly dig holes, and how can you stop it? You might be surprised, but there are actually a variety of different reasons your pup may be digging up your backyard. All of them are behavioral, which means Fido should be able to be trained out of this annoying habit.

In this article, we’ll discuss seven reasons why dogs suddenly start digging holes. You’ll also learn a few ways you can bring an end to this troublesome behavior. Let’s jump into the doggy-digging details.

Understanding The Digging Behavior

Dog in Freshly Dug Hole
There are several reasons why dogs dig, so it’s important to understand the behavior.
Before we “dig” into the reasons behind a dog’s digging, it’s crucial to understand the root of the behavior. The desire to dig is ingrained in a dog’s DNA and is as natural of behavior as howling or barking. This instinctual behavior is so normal for our furry friends that many dogs have been bred in the past specifically for their digging proficiency.

When realizing that digging is simply a part of many dog’s natural behaviors, you can understand why this behavior may require extra attention to stop. Just because it is an instinctual behavior does not mean that we want it occurring in our yards, and there are a few successful ways to put an end to the behavior for good.

Now that you are familiar with how natural digging is let’s get into the specifics of why your pup is digging.

Why Your Dog Started Digging

A digging furry friend can be quite a pain. Whether they are destroying your yard or plotting their escape, canine digging can cause an abundance of frustration for their owners. To help you better understand the digging pup in your life, let’s discuss the main causes of this behavior below.

It’s In Their Genes

Dog With Head Underground
Some dogs have been bred for their digging capabilities, so some breeds will have a stronger urge to dig than others.

The action of digging is ingrained in a dog’s DNA. While this impulse may be present in all dogs in some form, the need to dig is stronger in some breeds than others. Some dog breeds have been bred specifically for their hunting and digging abilities, as they were experts in chasing tiny critters into their burrows.

Humans played a huge role in creating dogs that are so drawn to digging holes. By selectively breeding the pups that were excellent diggers, we were left with burrowing professionals.

Because of this, the urge to dig has remained present in many of the breeds in our homes today. Some of the breeds that enjoy digging the most include Jack Russell Terriers, Dachshunds, Siberian Huskies, Beagles, and more.

They Are Seeking Prey

Small Dog Digs Near a Tree
If your pup is digging near a tree, he is probably looking for a creature hiding there.

Though our furry friends may be far from their wild roots, they still enjoy chasing after potential prey. Critters like small mammals and bugs can make their way onto our property, stirring up a dog’s prey drive.

Not only can a passing animal cause a dog to dig in hopes of finding them, but their scent can cause a dog to dig as well. Animal droppings like cat poop and leftover scents can trigger a dog’s urge to hunt, leading to excessive digging in certain areas.

If you notice an increase in animals or animal droppings in your yard, this may be the cause behind your dog’s sudden digging. You may also observe your pup digging excessively around trees, near rocks, and other notorious critter hiding spots.

They Are Relieving Stress

Happy Dog in the Sand
Digging just so happens to be a stress-relieving activity for dogs.

Do you have a favorite activity that you enjoy when you are particularly stressed? Our dogs have hobbies they enjoy as well, many of which they turn to when they are anxious or overwhelmed.

Many dogs resort to other canine behaviors to display stress and restlessness, but digging can be a pleasurable activity for many dogs and offers them an outlet for their current struggle.

Dogs can experience stress due to several situations. A dog may turn to the behavior of digging if they are left alone for long periods, not getting enough exercise, dealing with the addition of a new dog in the home, and more. If your dog’s digging began after a potentially stressful event, this could be the cause of their sudden digging.

They Are Bored

Black and Brown Dog Yawns in the Field
Dogs tend to dig holes as a way to bust their boredom.

Many dogs can turn to destructive behavior if they are experiencing boredom. A dog with pent-up energy may look for a fun distraction to keep them busy, and this distraction can be sudden digging in many cases.

Our dogs rely on mental and physical stimulation each day to keep them content and can even experience stress when these needs are not met. When their energy levels boil over, and they become frustrated, your yard may take the brunt of the storm.

If your canine companion does not get the recommended exercise amount for their breed each day, you may see multiple forms of destructive behavior in their routine. It’s crucial to be they get an adequate amount of exercise. If your hyper pup is digging every chance he gets, it may be time to step up their mental and physical stimulation.

They Are Hiding Treasure

Dog Picking up Toy From the Ground
Holes make perfect hiding spots for prized possessions such as bones or toys.

Do you have a dog that likes to hide its toys from other animals in its home? How about a dog that takes its treats into the other room to eat in peace? Dogs like this often enjoy hiding their “treasure” in a safe place, ensuring that they are the only ones who can enjoy it.

Some dogs do this by digging holes in their favorite spot in the yard, then burying their favorite dog toys in the process. These pups tend to view hiding their favorite toy as a type of brain-stimulation game.

Many dogs will hold their favorite item in their mouth as they search their yard for the perfect place to dig. You may then see them drop the item in their new hole, often nuzzling the dirt with their nose while they bury it. If you see your pup carrying their prized possessions around the yard before they dig, they may be trying to hide a treasure.

They Are Denning

German Shepherd Puppy Laying on Blanket
Burrowing or digging around in blankets is a good example of your pup’s denning instincts.

Just as some dogs have an ingrained need to dig, some dogs feel an overpowering urge to create a den. While our domesticated pups may not need to create their shelter, their wild ancestors certainly did. This is also why crate training is effective and why most dogs prefer a dog crate to sleep in.

Wild dogs would create burrows in the ground to protect themselves and their pups against the elements, offering them a cozy area to feel secure. This instinct is why you may notice your dog digging in his blankets as he is getting situated, as this is a part of their comfort process.

If you notice your pup digging a hole in your yard to then lay in the spot and rest, they may be trying to create a safe den for themselves. Your dog may turn to the same hole each time they want to relax or proceed to dig a new hole each time they are outdoors.

They Want To Escape

Dog Looking up From Under Fence
When a dog has a will, there is always a way. If she can’t make it over a fence, the only way out is to dig underneath the obstacle.

Some dogs have an undying need to run free. If an escape artist can’t find a way to jump over or through an obstacle, they may turn to the next option…going under. If a dog can dig a deep enough hole, it may be successful in escaping from its yard. Fences don’t often go deep underground, giving them the perfect escape tunnel if they are dedicated enough to their digging.

If your dog is always digging at the base of your fence, he may be trying to plot an escape. This escape plan can be especially dangerous for our furry friends, as they can fall victim to many unfortunate fates when roaming the world on their own.

The Risks Of Digging

Brown and White Dog With Head in Hole
Digging holes can often pose risks for your pooch, so it is best to stop it when possible.

Digging may be normal behavior in our canine friends, but it does not mean that it is completely safe. Digging brings with it a few serious risks for our furry friends, making it essential to try and limit this behavior when possible. Some risks of digging in dogs include:

  • Escaping from your yard
  • Broken nails from trauma
  • Damage around your yard
  • Increased risk of tripping in previously dug holes
  • Exposure to bacteria and parasites that live within the soil

How To Stop A Dog From Digging

Dog Laying in Dirt Next To Hole
If you’re sick of filling holes in your yard, you’ll need to meet your dog’s needs, so the desire to dig disappears.

A dog constantly digging up your yard is destructive and frustrating. Owners often want to put an end to this behavior for good. To help you protect your yard from countless holes, let’s discuss the best ways to stop a dog from digging.

Offer More Exercise

If the digging behavior starts when they are bored, implementing extra exercise may be enough to end the behavior. By tiring him out a bit more each day, they will no longer feel the need to turn to any destructive behavior. A well-exercised pup is often a well-behaved pup is something to remember.

Pest Control

It’s extremely hard for a dog to ignore critters that make their way into your yard. Because of this, you will often need to eliminate the pest from your yard to see a decrease in your dog’s digging habits. Just be sure that your pest control option is safe for your pup. You can ask your veterinarian about recommended products or call in a professional pest control team that uses pet-safe methods.

Offer Them Shelter

If your dog likes to dig and create dens, it may benefit from the addition of a dog shelter in your yard. You can place a cozy dog house in the areas that they usually dig, offering them a safe space to call their own. You can even fill the dog house with dirt if it seems like they truly enjoy the digging aspect.

Put Up Obstacles

If you notice digging near the base of your fence, you may need to make it more challenging for them to dig in that area. You can do this by placing stones at the base of the fence, planting bushes around the perimeter of the yard, or any other obstacle that can keep your pup away. It’s also important to neuter your escape artist dog if they are still intact, as their hormones will cause an overwhelming urge to escape and find females.

Mental Stimulation

One of the best ways to prevent your dog from digging is by offering other distractions when they are outside. You can do this by playing a game of fetch, playing tug of war, or any other activity that will offer them mental stimulation outside of digging. These activities can also help by offering them extra exercise.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, our canine companions turn to the action of digging for several reasons. Because each reason has different logic behind it, you’ll need to use different training methods to stop or prevent the behavior from happening. By leveraging the information above, you should be able to put an end to this pesky behavior once and for all.

Mastiff Mouthing Owners Hand

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